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Kitchen Manager vs. Sous Chef: What Are the Differences?

Learn about the two careers and review some of the similarities and differences between them.

The kitchen manager and sous chef are two important positions in any restaurant. Both roles are responsible for overseeing the kitchen staff and ensuring that food is prepared correctly and in a timely manner. However, there are several key differences between these two positions. In this article, we discuss the duties of a kitchen manager and a sous chef, and we explain how the two positions differ.

What is a Kitchen Manager?

A Kitchen Manager is responsible for the overall operations of the kitchen in a restaurant, cafe, or other food service establishment. They ensure that the kitchen runs smoothly and efficiently by coordinating the activities of the kitchen staff, including cooks, dishwashers, and food preparers. They also develop menu items, order supplies, and oversee food preparation to ensure that quality standards are met. Kitchen Managers also train new kitchen staff and may be responsible for disciplinary action when necessary.

What is a Sous Chef?

A Sous Chef is a culinary professional who works in a kitchen under the Head Chef. They typically oversee the kitchen staff, manage food preparation and ensure that all dishes are properly cooked and presented. Sous Chefs often create their own menu items and oversee the kitchen’s inventory and budget. They also train new culinary staff and develop recipes. In some kitchens, the Sous Chef is responsible for all food preparation while the Head Chef focuses on menu development and kitchen management.

Kitchen Manager vs. Sous Chef

Here are the main differences between a kitchen manager and a sous chef.

Job Duties

A kitchen manager oversees all aspects of the kitchen, including employee management, food preparation and customer service. They may delegate tasks to their sous chef and other kitchen staff but are responsible for ensuring each task is completed successfully. In contrast, a sous chef manages only the work within the kitchen, delegating tasks to other kitchen employees and overseeing them while they complete those tasks.

The daily job duties of both roles can vary widely depending on the needs of the business and the preferences of the employees. For example, a sous chef might prepare one meal while the kitchen manager delegates that task to them. Similarly, a kitchen manager might handle customer complaints or concerns while a sous chef might assist them directly.

Job Requirements

A kitchen manager is responsible for the overall operations of a restaurant’s kitchen, while a sous chef supports the head chef in running the kitchen. Both positions typically require at least some formal culinary training from a vocational school, community college, or culinary arts program at a four-year university. Many chefs also have experience working their way up through the ranks of a kitchen staff, starting as line cooks or prep cooks before eventually becoming a sous chef or kitchen manager. Some chefs also choose to pursue certification from organizations like the American Culinary Federation (ACF).

Work Environment

Sous chefs typically work in professional kitchens, which are fast-paced environments that require a lot of physical activity. They may spend their days preparing food for large groups of people and working with other kitchen staff to ensure the meal service goes smoothly.

Kitchen managers usually work in restaurants or hotels, where they oversee all aspects of the business. They may also work in hospitals, schools or other institutions that provide meals to customers. These professionals often have more administrative duties than sous chefs, so they may spend most of their time in an office setting.


Both kitchen managers and sous chefs are responsible for the day-to-day operations of a kitchen, including supervising staff, ordering supplies and preparing food. They both need to have excellent leadership skills to motivate their team and work well under pressure. They also need to be able to multitask and stay organized as they oversee multiple tasks and projects at one time.

While a kitchen manager may be responsible for more of the business aspects of running a kitchen, such as budgeting and scheduling, a sous chef is typically responsible for more of the culinary aspects. This can include menu development, food preparation and cooking, and working with the head chef to develop new dishes. Sous chefs often have more formal culinary training than kitchen managers and may be better equipped to handle complex culinary tasks.


The average salary for a kitchen manager is $48,916 per year, while the average salary for a sous chef is $51,182 per year. Both of these salaries can vary depending on the size of the restaurant, the location of the restaurant and the level of experience the chef has.


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